Felony convictions can have a lasting effect on your life beyond any time you may spend in prison. However, starting on January 1, 2024, moving forward will be easier for some individuals with felony convictions who want to change their names.
What does the new law do?
What House Bill 2542 does
When House Bill 2542 goes into effect, people with a felony conviction for identity theft and those who are on a registration due to the Sex Offender Registration Act, Arsonist Registration Act or the Murderer and Violent Offender Against Youth Registration Act will be able to legally change their names because of religions beliefs, marriage, gender identity or status as a victim of human trafficking. Additionally, there will no longer be a requirement for other felons to wait 10 years after sentencing to make a name change.
Judges will still make the final decision on name change petitions. People who are serving out a sentence that is not terminated, pardoned or discharged cannot request a name change.
Reasons for the reform
Advocates for the change say it makes Illinois law fairer for transgender and gender-expansive people who want to change their names. It also makes it possible for survivors of human trafficking and domestic violence who want to change their names for safety reasons to do so.
Current Illinois law is among the most strict in the nation when it comes to allowing people with felony convictions to change their names. When the new law takes effect, those who have completed their sentences may find it easier to move on with their lives.